Thursday, June 3, 2010


Years ago I watched as a horror film was finished and the heads of the studio made the director re-cut 15 minutes of the movie - claiming that if he could not explain within the additional footage a backstory on the alien - they did not want the movie because horror fans demand to always know the story behind/about the alien/monster or villain. The director fought to not include the footage - but finally gave in for the studio heads didn't budge on this.
We decided to bring this questions directly to horror fans. Please be honest and think back on your favorite horror movies - Vote - and feel free to explain your answer below in the comment section too! 

Thank you for your help and opinion! We are listening.


  1. I see it both ways... Yes a villain needs a back story, or else why are people suppose to be scared of him/her, why is he/she doing what they are doing? But at the same time... if someone were to come across a murderer, they wouldn't ask him/her's story, they would just get murdered, so learning a back story is kinda useless for that victim. But then how would the "good guy" prevail if there wasn't a story to give hints to weaknesses? Or if the villain always wins, why? Just sick in the head? and that in itself if a backstory, people will wonder why he/she does what they do.
    I think both versions could be made. There always needs to be a reason, so thus a back story... but you pose a very interesting question. Would people like a horror film if it was just random acts of violence? Could people see that as entertainment? Or do they need to know a back story or any kinda story in order to feel connected? Or could a horror film be made without showing history?

    As of right now, your poll is "dead" even. HAHA!!! Thats funny!

  2. Stephan - you bring up almost every single point I pondered as we head towards the end of our pre-production here - we figured since we kept going in circles here in the studio - to the people - the fans - see what they thought - and of course lol - pretty dead even lol. The main case came down to ALIEN - where we knew not much of the alien other than it was growing and it killed VS Halloween - where we knew he a crazy escaped and the doctor filled in most of the back story.... and there ya go - thanks for the input Stephan - I mean that.

    Oklahoma Ward.

  3. Personally I would go with no back story, I think it would be interesting if well done.... I'm not a film writer so I don't know... but it would be an interesting film idea. But if it is successful, people will still ask the "why" question... which leads to a sequel. Which could be a good thing. I don't know about ALIEN, because aliens have their own backstory built into us... either peaceful beings, or radical killing machines... and sometimes comical. But knowing the industry, unless its REALLY well done, and they believe in you, they will want the stereotypical horror. Which is not really such a bad thing either I think.
    I'd say present it the way you want... if they don't like it, then present it to them the way they want to make a quick buck. I don't like that philosophy, but we all need to eat.

  4. On the background of the monster, etc. I agree that we accept aliens without knowing their entire background. After all they are aliens and we are never sure of them. But other monsters, such as our human companions, I don't think we have to know what caused them to be monsters. If they are killing machines, that's enough for me. In fact if they are totally bonkers, they might as well be an alien as far as we humans are concerned. Psycho was that type, I don't care what the sequels said. Reasonable argument is probably not going to save your life.

    Then there is the cold blooded killer for profit, or for fun, or for self promotion. We think of the mob killers who do it like a job. They are monsters too but we perceive they are not mentally deranged, just mean and cold blooded. Now sometimes this is a combination of an alien who thinks, such as the killers in the Terminator series. The difference between them and our mafia killers is that Terminators could not be easily killed. And of course, there is no reasoning for your life with either of them, as far as I know. Now the movie explained why the Terminators were trying to kill, and where they had appeared from. This was necessary in my opinion. Otherwise we would have no idea what was going on.

    In Alien, we were given the hint that this monster was just doing what came naturally to it. When the monster ate its way out of our space man, I didn't think it did that to hurt the human, but was merely using the body of the human for incubation reasons. We weren't even sure the Alien had thinking or reasoning in its capacity. In Aliens we learn that the mother of all those alien pods or babies did have reasoning power when our heroine threatened her babies with the torch. The Alien mother also understood the trade suggested, her babies for our baby. But overall we did not get the idea these Aliens were ever going to sit down and discuss philosophy with us.

    I agree with many of the comments made, the explanation behind the killer, monster, alien, etc. can be used especially to explain some actions (Terminator series for sure) but terror and fear can be prevalent even without an explanation. Each story and case would need its own analysis.

  5. Hm,difficult question.
    I guess it can work both ways...
    It depends, if you have a psycho or killer it might be more scary to know where he/she comes from and why he/she does the "evil" things.
    If you have aliens it also works without a specific explanation. I mean til today I don't know where THE "Alien" comes from, but (for me) that's one of the best movies ever.

  6. I agree Jessi - I think it can work to have a back-story - but I don't think it has to have one to be successful - in fact - at times - I wish some horror movies left the killer or monster more vague - left us to our mind as to what it is and why it kills - I find my mind brings more scary images to what is really there far better than what I usually see - take ALIEN again - in the original - we never really got a GREAT look at the thing - and that made it even more scary for me - all I knew was - the thing was killing machine - kind of like a shark - it just kills - not caring if you are woman with child - if you are a child - or whatever - if you are in it';s path - you are gone.... but - I can float the other way too - Halloween worked for me because I knew the guy escaped a mental institute - and although I could of cared less about why he was killing and could have skipped over that whole story-line - I did like the fact I knew he was crazy from the git go.... end result for me looks to be - as long as it's scary - it can be done either way... will be interesting to see how the voting ends up - on the other site I have posted this same poll - and it too is pretty dead even.

  7. I have to agree with those that say it works both ways but I will add that it depends on the context of the story as to whether or not the back story is necessary. If a backstory is suggested where it is not needed, or where the audience has enough info to create their own backstory, then I think that would hurt the film. It would be like forcing in unrelevent information. I think villains and monsters that we quite don't understand completely have a more ominous feel to them.

    I think the company guy that demanded a backstory was following a format without regard to the context of that particular film. Just my thoughts.

  8. Before I answered, I wanted to give this question some serious thought. When you have an individual such as the Michael Myers', the Jason's, the Freddy Kruger's, I really feel you need to include a back story. But it should evolve during the film. We don't need to know it at the beginning. Part of the thrill of the movie is our desire to know what created this "killer", this "monster". These films are a trip into our minds too. As a fan, I can process it better if the back story is eventually revealed or at least partially revealed. It gives you that ah-ha moment. It shouldn't undermine the story but enhance it and leave it open enough so that the audience wants more. They should crave to know what happens next especially if the writer is wanting to carry on with sequels.

    But when you are dealing with aliens,or traditional monsters or creatures - it's just a given that they are bad. The only back story that might bolster the work would be "what brought them here" if the creatures are on earth, in our backyard, etc.

  9. Sharon - great answers - and I tend to agree with a lot of what you stated. And to all who have written - is so very refreshing and grand as a filmmaker - to hear how you all think - and what you think as fans of movies. I mean that - I much prefer listening and thinking about what fans/viewers want and think than listening to a suit who is interested in the financial aspect only of a film - and for that - I'll continue to read and think about what you all saying - I think you very much for sharing your thoughts - and look forward to more ;-)